Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fantasy Masterworks meme

I've seen this list floating around a few blogs. I'm not sure I'd consider all of these as 'master' works. I actually haven't even heard of a few of them before. And there are several other books I'd consider for addition to the list (assuming they left Tolkien out on purpose even). But here you go anyway.

The farthest back I could trace the list was this site:

Bold-Read it

Italics-Own it but haven't read it

1 - The Book of the New Sun, Volume 1: Shadow and Claw - Gene Wolfe
2 - Time and the Gods - Lord Dunsany
3 - The Worm Ouroboros - E.R. Eddison
4 - Tales of the Dying Earth - Jack Vance
5 - Little, Big - John Crowley
6 - The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny
7 - Viriconium - M. John Harrison
8 - The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle - Robert E. Howard*
9 - The Land of Laughs - Jonathan Carroll
10 - The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea - L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
11 - Lud-in-the-Mist - Hope Mirrlees
12 - The Book of the New Sun, Volume 2: Sword and Citadel - Gene Wolfe
13 - Fevre Dream - George R. R. Martin
14 - Beauty - Sheri S. Tepper
15 - The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany
16 - The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon - Robert E. Howard*
17 - Elric - Michael Moorcock
18 - The First Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber*
19 - Riddle-Master - Patricia A. McKillip
20 - Time and Again - Jack Finney
21 - Mistress of Mistresses - E.R. Eddison
22 - Gloriana or the Unfulfill'd Queen - Michael Moorcock
23 - The Well of the Unicorn - Fletcher Pratt
24 - The Second Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber*
25 - Voice of Our Shadow - Jonathan Carroll
26 - The Emperor of Dreams - Clark Ashton Smith
27 - Lyonesse I: Suldrun's Garden - Jack Vance
28 - Peace - Gene Wolfe
29 - The Dragon Waiting - John M. Ford
30 - Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe - Michael Moorcock
31 - Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams - C.L. Moore
32 - The Broken Sword - Poul Anderson
33 - The House on the Borderland and Other Novels - William Hope Hodgson
34 - The Drawing of the Dark - Tim Powers
35 - Lyonesse II and III: The Green Pearl and Madouc - Jack Vance
36 - The History of Runestaff - Michael Moorcock
37 - A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay
38 - Darker Than You Think - Jack Williamson
39 - The Mabinogion - Evangeline Walton*
40 - Three Hearts & Three Lions - Poul Anderson
41 - Grendel - John Gardner

42 - The Iron Dragon's Daughter - Michael Swanwick
43 - WAS - Geoff Ryman
44 - Song of Kali - Dan Simmons
45 - Replay - Ken Grimwood
46 - Sea Kings of Mars and Other Worldly Stories - Leigh Brackett
47 - The Anubis Gates - Tim Powers
48 - The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia A. McKillip
49 - Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
50 - The Mark of the Beast and Other Fantastical Tales - Rudyard Kipling

*I've read a different edition of Conan than that listed, but I've read everything REH wrote about the Cimmerian. I've got the Swords series of Fafhrd & the Mouser except for the final volume so those first two different compilations listed are covered, I've got the original Mabinogion, not Walton's retelling.

I've read 10 out of 50. Not bad. The list still seems pretty arbitrary to me. Maybe I should come up with my own list some day...


  1. I think you should, as I recognize a couple of books that I've never once heard of. That might be the point, but I'd imagine that all "master works" should at least be somewhat notable to people who are interested in fantasy literature.

  2. After posting this last night, I realized that a couple years ago there was a Facebook meme with a list of the 100 novels everyone should read from the BBC or somewhere. At the time, I started my own list of books I thought would be good. It's not all fantasy, there's plenty of sci fi, normal literature, and mythology in it.

    But if I use that as a base, plus ask some friends for input on their ideas of 'fantasy masterworks' I should be able to put together a list fairly easily.

    Depending on how fast my friends get back to me, I may have it in a week or two.

  3. I HIGHLY recommend number 3 - it's difficult but unbelievably good once you get the hang of the prose. I've read about half the books on the list and own most of them. It's a pretty solid guide, IMO. FWIW.